August 21st, 2013
Last week I visited family in El Paso, and one of the things I did with my dad and some cousins was to see historic San Elizario, just outside El Paso.
Aside from checking out the historic presidio chapel, founded 1789, where my ancestors were baptized, married and buried, I was curious to see the historic Juan Maria Luján House, pictured above, which I already knew from research was still standing.
Juan Maria Luján (1835-1914) was my great-great-grandfather, whose daughter Apolonia (1872-1929) married Ludwig “Louis” Stoltz (1866-1958). Just before leaving for El Paso I heard from a distant cousin in another state the family story how they met. And that’s why I really wanted to see the house. Read the rest of this entry »
July 24th, 2013
Ruth Mendell (abt 1788-?)
I feel like Ruth Mendell could tell me a lot.
Here’s the background. On 17 Nov 1864 my great-great-grandfather Seth Dunham married Lavina Jessie Springston in Napa, California. He was 38; she was 15. This particular genealogical mystery is about Lavinia’s ancestry.
Lavina’s parents were William Springston, born about 1818 in Ohio, and Nancy, who was born about 1820 in Ohio. You notice I don’t have a last name for Nancy, and that’s one of the mysteries. Of their nine children, I have only one record with a clue as to her maiden name: the death certificate of their son William T. Springston, born 2 Apr 1864 in California and died 1 May 1949 in Fresno, California. His death certificate gives his mother’s maiden name as Todd. Another possible clue: Lavina was baptized into the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Santa Rosa in August 1870, and her name is recorded as Nancy Marice Spring[s]ton.
So, was her maiden name Todd, Marice, or something else? And what about her father William? Where did he come from? Read the rest of this entry »
June 18th, 2012
The hand-written family history provided by my great-grandmother, Jesús García de Alvarado (1871-1966), has proven invaluable in building out the Alvarado line of my family history. At the same time, it has presented some conundrums. This article proposes a theory of our Alvarado lineage back to the Spanish colonial era, seeking to reconcile church records of Sinaloa with the holographic family history of my bisabuela. To set out this theory I focus on five main points, all depicted in the preliminary lineage documented in the accompanying tree (click on thumbnail or open in a new tab) to serve as a framework for continuing study.
The first important data provided by this written history of Jesús are the names of my great-grandfather José Maria‘s parents and siblings, in birth order. The story that grounds this family history is about my great-great-grandfather Fernando and how he came to live in Sinaloa. There he found his wife, “la unica hija que tenia el Señor Frias Asendado de Pueblo de Chametla.” To this she has added in the margin “(Eugenia) Eufemia.” In my mother’s bride book, she had carefully noted the name of her great-grandmother as Jesüs told her: Eugenia Frias. This is the first issue to deal with. Read the rest of this entry »
May 24th, 2012
After the final discovery of a photo that included the residence of my Alvarado ancestors’ house from 1900s and 1920s Los Angeles tucked away in a neighborhood, I thought that was about as good a find as I could get.
So imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a close-up image of the very house my great-grandparents lived in when they first arrived in Los Angeles in 1899.
I had occasionally skimmed through collections of old images of Sonora Town, the area around the Plaza Church where José María and Jesús Alvarado first landed in the city. I was always on the lookout for that house with a long staircase set at an angle at the southeast corner of North Broadway and Bellevue Avenue (which became Sunset Boulevard in 1912 and today is Cesar Chavez Avenue). I had a schematic of the house at 412-414 Bellevue from a 1900 Sanborn Map, so I knew its basic size, shape and position.
Close-up of 1900 Sanborn Map location and schematic of Alvarado residence
So imagine my surprise when a look through the USC Digital Library revealed an amazing close-up of that very house.
The description reads:
Photograph of the exterior of an adobe built by Francisco Manza at 412 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, ca.1925. The adobe, built in 1865, is pictured here from the side; a small brick kiln and a collection of other yard items stands with a small palm tree alongside the house. Farther in, a door with a mail-slat and a six-paned sliding window are visible at the back of the raised porch, from which wooden stairs descend to the right.
Exterior of an adobe built by Francisco Manza at 412 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, ca.1925, University of Southern California. Libraries, Title Insurance and Trust / C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, 1860-1960
This has got to be one of the most exciting family history discoveries I’ve made, an actual glimpse into how my immigrant great-grandparents first experienced this city.
May 8th, 2012
For some time I’ve had a mission to find a photograph of the house on Fremont Avenue in downtown Los Angeles where the Alvarado family lived in the late teens and early 1920s. I’ve spent many hours combing through online collections of historical photographs, hoping to find some clue that would give me a window into the neighborhood where my grandmother grew up and was married off at the age of 15, where my granduncle Carlos died in the flu epidemic of 1918, where my great-grandfather died in 1921.
Imagine how I feel today; I’ve solved the puzzle and have a photo of that neighborhood and the very house. Read the rest of this entry »